Aldeburgh v Ipswich IV

15th January – at Queen’s Field

Result: Aldeburgh 8 Ipswich IV 15

Great tussle

A hard fought, even match, played in a good spirit, with the result open right to the end. Aldeburgh’s development this season has been tremendous. With a little more composure to finish off try scoring opportunities, we should see a strong finish to the league season.

A well caught kick off led straight into a series of short balls and forward drives which was Aldeburgh’s great strength through the afternoon. Once the ball was released to the backs, their running looked dangerous and quickly led to a penalty which fly half Ed Robson converted safely to give a 3-0 lead after just three minutes.

With Ipswich having such a big, strong team, it was never going to be an easy game. They powered back up the field, having their own penalty attempt which was missed. Despite their size and power, Aldeburgh tackled strongly and bravely all afternoon, preventing any serious line breaks.

The strong running in the backs came from Aldeburgh. After another penalty to Aldeburgh, missed this time, Ipswich launched a penalty kick downfield which failed to find touch. Adam Hateley gathered on the wing, linked well with Ed Robson, gaining 50 metres. Despite the pressure and good running, Aldeburgh failed to add to their points.

Gradually, Ipswich’s power brought them back into the game, spending their first period in Aldeburgh’s half after 25 minutes play. From a line out in the Aldeburgh 22 (Ipswich dominated the line out all afternoon, a cause for concern for Aldeburgh), they moved the ball across the field, threatening the Aldeburgh line. A turnover appeared to relieve the pressure but the ball was given away leading to a penalty close to the line, a forward charge and an Ipswich try. It was not converted.

The try gave Ipswich impetus leading to a repeat performance a few minutes later. This time it was converted, giving a half time score of 3-12. It felt closer.

Early in the second half, James Ledger (prop) had to leave the field after a bang on the head. The team missed his strong running. The powerful running of the forwards, notably Alex Wellum and Tristan Revell from the second row and Freddie Burgess from No. 8, was an asset throughout the game.

The scrum was another area of strength. After being pushed back ominously in the first scrum of the game, the Aldeburgh pack got their act together culminating in a second half scrum in which they destroyed the Ipswich pack, gaining the only scrum penalty of the game. The scrummaging machine has been a good investment.

The forward drives were orchestrated by scrum half, Jed Gallant, who kept them moving before choosing exactly the right moment to spin out his long, accurate pass to Ed Robson to release the backs. Jed was lively and influential throughout the match.

There were further powerful runs by Adam Hateley, who had another splendid attacking game as well as putting in some crunching tackles, and good movement in the backs which created at least one clear try scoring opportunity which simply could not be finished off. After 30 minutes of second half stalemate, Adam made a long clearance kick, which was chased well by him and the other backs. The ball was turned over by Aldeburgh, spun down the line and Stephen Anker (who came on at half time at full back for the injured Robert Poll) made the extra man, beating the cover defence from 30 metres out. As in our last outing, Aldeburgh scored the try of the match. A difficult conversion was missed.

With a few minutes remaining, Aldeburgh opted for another kick at goal from distance which failed. Against the run of play, Ipswich gained territory resulting in a penalty attempt from in front of the posts which they converted. Final score: Aldeburgh 8 Ipswich 15.

Many thanks to referee, Peter Medhurst, who, having stood in at short notice, managed the game with calm authority.

It was great to see so many spectators attending, generating a real buzz around the club.

Colchester Vs v Aldeburgh

22nd January – at Colchester

Result: Colchester 43 - Aldeburgh 20

The Magnificent Twelve

Amid the impressive surroundings of Colchester’s acres of pitches and huge, modern clubhouse, twelve intrepid Aldeburgh players turned up to make a match of it. Colchester sportingly provided players to enable a game to take place. The two sides could not have been more different. Colchester could not be said to have a young side but they had retained their toughness and gained wiliness with the years. Aldeburgh, on the other hand, with their heavier forwards unavailable, had a team of fast-paced youngsters. A case of the bludgeon against the rapier.

The pattern was set early on with powerful Colchester runs sucking in Aldeburgh tacklers. Aldeburgh responded with evasive running without quite being able to make it count. The line outs were ineffective – Aldeburgh couldn’t win any and Colchester couldn’t throw straight – which led to plenty of scrums where Colchester were dominant.

Both sides showed their strengths in the first quarter of an hour. Robert Poll made the first of many weaving runs from full back (which earned him the man of the match accolade), linking well with Adam Hateley, at outside centre. The power of Colchester was such that there was no way through, only round. Colchester, however, took the direct route while recycling the ball well until Aldeburgh ran out of tacklers, enabling the right wing to score in the corner after 15 minutes.

The same winger collected a clearance kick with space to get speed up enabling him to burst through several tackles before being brought down by a tackle near the line adjudged to be high. Colchester took the scrum, drove Aldeburgh back, moved the ball out to the outside centre who powered over under the posts for a converted try. 12-0.

After half an hour, Lee Buckle (prop) had to leave the field following a bang on the head. Colchester, to their credit, provided a replacement. More good runs by Robert Poll led to a penalty which was quickly taken. Jon Hunt (normally a No 8, playing second row) ran hard and slipped an inside pass to Ed Robson who went over for Aldeburgh’s first points.

As the game went on, the Colchester No 8 was gaining confidence in his ability to break tackles. His running was a powerful weapon which led to two more tries by his teammates before half time at which the score was 22-5.

Aldeburgh made a good start to the second half with more incisive runs by Robert Poll. A quick penalty by scrum half, Tom Ridgeon, gained 20 metres but still there was no breakthrough. Colchester bounced back, continuing their approach from the end of the first half, resulting in two more tries to take the score to 36-5 after 12 minutes of the second half. It looked as though it could get messy.

Despite everything, the game remained competitive. Aldeburgh turned the ball over, broke out of their own half, recycled the ball to prop, Matt Elias, 30 metres from the line. He sidestepped one defender before beating another for pace on the outside to score a superb try in the corner.

After 23 minutes, Robert Poll set off on yet another brilliant run. It looked as though he was gaining in belief that he could eventually get through. Sadly, in the tackle he hit his head on the ground which meant that, as a precaution, he left the field. Colchester provided yet another replacement who played a solid, defensive game but could not replicate Robert’s attacking ability.

With 15 minutes left, Colchester’s No 8 yet again broke through tackles to enable a try which took the score to 43-10. It would have been easy to give up at that point but not so. An excellent move by Aldeburgh’s backs nearly led to a try. In the loose play after the ensuing line out, flanker Lewis Wardell Bird simply ripped the ball from the opposition and dived over unstoppably.

Aldeburgh kept coming. After more pressure, a quick penalty got the ball to Jon Hunt who was not going to let anyone prevent him from scoring the try which gained a bonus point. Credit to the Aldeburgh team for scoring the last two tries in a match in which they took a physical pounding. They tackled hard and bravely throughout with a special mention to the two flankers, Lewis Wardell Bird and Aonghus (pronounced Angus) Anderson whose tackle count was especially high.

Thanks are due to Club Chairman, Lee Barber, for acting as first aider, water boy, kicking tee provider and touch judge! Well done to Freddie Burgess for standing in as captain after club skipper, Tristan Revell, was unable to play having had his appendix removed on Wednesday.

Bury St Edmunds 4s v Aldeburgh

29th January – at Bury

Result: Bury 19 - Aldeburgh 19

Tight match, thrilling finish

For the second week in a row, Aldeburgh took fewer than 15 players to an away match yet played a full part in an enthralling encounter. Bury supplied one player throughout but that left Aldeburgh playing with one fewer player for the whole game. Despite that handicap, it was an even game throughout until the thrilling denouement.

It was a fine afternoon with excellent conditions other than the layer of mud which covered the pitch. Early on, Aldeburgh demonstrated again their power in forward drives close to the ruck with James Ledger (prop) taking a lead role. When the chance came, they moved the ball slickly through the backs. As Colchester did last week, Bury tended to take a more direct route although they also occasionally moved the ball wide but with less effectiveness than Aldeburgh

The line outs were scrappy but even. Bury were naturally on top in the scrums with the player advantage but Aldeburgh held them and, as the game wore on, became more adept at getting good ball from their own put-ins.

It was 20 minutes before the first score, with Bury pressing through scrums and penalties until their No 6 made a powerful, short run to score under the posts. A simple conversion gave them a 7-0 lead.

Only 5 minutes later, a second late tackle earned Bury a stern lecture from the referee and gave Aldeburgh a penalty. From the ensuing line out, the forwards drove on, several more runs were made again by Ledger, until the other prop, Matt Elias, drove over from close range. Ed Robson (fly half) converted to bring the scores level. That is how it remained at half time.

The second half started in the same way. Totally evenly matched with both sides playing some good rugby. However, after just 8 minutes, a drive by Bury from a line out was well held up by the Aldeburgh forwards who, unfortunately, kept their heads in the ruck while Bury’s No 6 (again) picked the ball up and simply ran over unopposed. The conversion was missed. 12-7.

Aldeburgh hardly had the ball for the next ten minutes. It was looking to be an uphill battle. Eventually the pressure was relieved by a splendid clearance kick by Ed Robson which took advantage of the new 50-22 rule. From the attacking line out, Aldeburgh applied pressure with a couple of good moves by the backs. Bury had the chance to clear with a penalty which went horribly wrong.

Eventually, Aldeburgh swung the ball through the hands, including those of Freddie Burgess (second row) and James Ledger, who had provided an unlikely centre partnership earlier in the season, giving Adam Hateley (centre) the opportunity to finish the move with a fine try in the corner. The missed conversion left the score at 12-12.

As the half wore on, more Aldeburgh players got knocks but carried on as there were no subs. Bury had a couple of breaks which easily could have led to tries but somehow Aldeburgh scrambled back to cover. Just when the game seemed to have petered out into a stalemate, Bury’s No 6 burst through from a ruck close to the Aldeburgh line for his hat trick try under the posts. The conversion made the score 19-12 with the referee indicating that there were only two minutes left. After the struggle to make headway throughout the second half, it looked as though Aldeburgh’s valiant efforts had come to nothing.

There was no sign of them giving up. Bury held the kick off but Aldeburgh kept at them until they regained the ball. After further strong pressure, Jon Hunt (playing second row again) powered over under the posts. When Ed Robson lined up the conversion, there was no doubt that this would be the last kick of the match. The spectators were surprised when he placed the ball on the 22 rather than giving himself a shorter kick. He backed himself to stick to his regular kicking process which kept him out of the way of the charging Bury pack as his kick sailed over to get the draw. What a finish!

Getting a draw when playing the whole game one player short was a tremendous result.It was a great team performance.All the players committed themselves and all appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed the outing.The squad is building in size and quality.If we can field a full time, we can more than hold our own against any team in this league.Next Saturday’s home match against Mistley should be a good one.